It seems somewhat incongruous to be celebrating the International Day of Happiness when so many people around the world are experiencing anything but happiness. The corona virus is still claiming lives and there is great inequity across the world in access to vaccines and treatment. There is also an unsettling disquiet about whose lives have been considered an acceptable sacrifice for the freedom of the rest. I can’t help but notice the difference. While many people seem to be going about as if life has returned to normal, where Dan lives and goes everyday it is still: sign in, wear a mask, fully vaxxed only. I really do appreciate that these restrictions are still in place for our most vulnerable people, but it does make me wonder, if this is what is required to keep our most vulnerable safe, why aren’t we ALL doing that?
In Australia we are again in the midst of another natural disaster, with unprecedented rainfall and flooding affecting many in Queensland and New South Wales. Lives have been lost, as well as many homes and livelihoods. We have not been personally affected by the floods, apart from a lot of rain, a muddy yard and a gravel road that has even more potholes than before, but our hearts go out to those who have lost friends and loved ones or everything they had. I cannot even imagine the heart break of losing everything. Houses can be rebuilt, but it’s the loss of the irreplaceable that would be so devastating. Some things still matter, like the things we’ve collected from the places we’ve been or the things that have been handed down through the generations or the old fashioned photos from the time before we all went digital. They still matter. They still tell a story about people’s lives. How do you start again?
And then there’s Ukraine. I don’t even know where to start on that one because the images and the horror unfolding there is beyond words. The only glimmer of hope is the fierce and defiant spirit of the Ukrainian people and the way in which most of the world has been united in outrage and support. But will it be enough? How do you stop a ruthless invader obsessed with a lust for power? We all know who will pay the real price.
With everything going on in the world and locally, it’s hard to find something to be happy about. It’s so easy to be overwhelmed with doom and gloom when you spend way too much time scrolling through the news headlines, but we can’t look away either. We are all part of the same world. There’s a delicate balance to be held between caring for those around us while also caring for ourselves. For the Day of Happiness the UN states…
“With our world facing unprecedented challenges, wellbeing matters more than ever.”
Wellbeing is becoming to mean more than just a roof over our heads and food on the table, although that is certainly where it starts. Increasingly attitudes about wellbeing and happiness are starting to shift as we question what really matters in our lives, and unsurprisingly, ascending the corporate ladder and accumulating wealth are no longer being valued as the ultimate goal of life. Human happiness and physical, emotional and mental wellbeing are just as important as economic security.
Even in the midst of a gloomy world future, perhaps the Day of Happiness can be an opportunity to reflect on what really matters. The theme for this years Day of Happiness is Build Back Happier, which is quite ironic considering all the communities that need rebuilding after the impact of a pandemic, natural disaster or war. The question is, how do we do that? How do we Build Back Happier?
How do we restructure society and the working world to be inclusive and meet the real needs of people wanting flexibility and a better work-life balance? How do we rebuild communities to withstand the future impacts of climate change and foreseeable natural disasters? How do we achieve peace and security for all people? I don’t know what the answer is for that last one, except that it requires a united response.
On a smaller scale, what can we do to find happiness and wellbeing in our own lives and create it in the lives of others?
I often find nature to be a continuous source of happiness and you don’t have to go too far to find it. A flower in a pot can be enough to bring even the smallest smile. I bought this bulb from Bunnings a few months ago and I have watched the flower stalk shoot up and up until it was literally eye-balling me. Over a number of days I photographed the slow opening of the flower, although really flowers is more appropriate as it is made up of numerous tiny little flowers. It’s called a Black Pearl Lily and originates from the Mediterranean. You might also know it as Arabs Eye. Apparently it is frost hardy which is essential when you live in Toowoomba and it is supposed to slowly multiply into a clump. A single flower might not seem much, but in dark times, sometimes we have to find happiness where we can.
The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.Henry Ward Beecher
What brings happiness in your life?